FEMA: Security grants can be used for repairs
Port authorities, terminal operators and other maritime business that receive port security grants from the federal government can now use the money to maintain, upgrade or replace security equipment in addition to making original purchases, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has ruled.
In the past, port security grants have helped cover access controls, communication systems, video and other sensors, implementation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, physical barriers, lighting, training exercises and other security measures. Maintenance contracts were only eligible for grant funding if they were procured at time of purchase and were limited to the time period of the grant, typically one year.
FEMA has determined that grant funds from one year can now carry over to other years to pay for maintenance contracts and warranties, repair or replacement costs and service fees (usually for information technology) for all active and future grant awards, according to an information bulletin issued Nov. 20. The ruling also applies to other types of homeland security grant programs for states, transit agencies, emergency responders and other preparedness categories.
The American Association of Port Authorities, which has lobbied the Department of Homeland Security to loosen its guidelines following congressional approval of grant money for maintenance costs in the 2006 SAFE Port Act, applauded FEMA's decision.
AAPA President Kurt Nagle said the policy reversal would help ports make sure security systems they purchase stay in top operating condition.
'Over time, security maintenance and repair expenses can easily exceed the original purchase price of the equipment,' he noted in a statement.